I DREW attention yesterday to the fact that Thomson Financial’s corporate investor relations and public relations businesses don’t fit well in the structure outlined in the Thomson-Reuters acquisition announcement.
According to the companies, the combined Reuters and Thomson Financial business will be guided by journalistic principles, such as integrity, independence and freedom from bias. However, a big part of Thomson Financial’s corporate services are unadulterated corporate promotion.
This includes PR bumf like the new iShowcase Flash presentation product, investor relations web hosting, which Thomson dominates in the U.S., PR web hosting, webcasting and content distribution.
There’s also the question of whether Reuters will continue to treat all companies equally if they don’t use its corporate communications or investor relations services. Thomson already favors its clients in some of its financial information services. And then there’s the problem of companies’ huge appetite for wanting to know which investors are looking at their information. None of this fits well with the Reuter Trust Principles.
Non-core to combined Reuters-Thomson Financial strategy
Of course, the proposed Thomson-Reuters company’s commitment to the Trust Principles may itself be no more than a PR ploy to win over those who take seriously such ideals as editorial integrity. There may be no plans to get rid of the corporate communications services. A disposal isn’t mentioned in any of the information I’ve read.
But even if Thomson-Reuters keeps the IR and PR communications businesses, it’s clear that these are non-core to the strategy of the combined Reuters-Thomson Financial business. I doubt Thomson’s existing IR and PR clients will like that, being “non-core.”
So I’m just going to assume that Thomson’s majority owners Woodbridge, controlled by Canada’s Thomson family, are serious about wanting the new combined Reuters-Thomson Financial business to be run strictly according to the Reuter Trust Principles.
And that means Thomson Financial’s website hosting business and even its corporate webcasting services could be up for sale.
Which begs the question: who might want to buy them?
Long list of potential suitors
How about one of the big PR wire services — PR Newswire or Business Wire? Or perhaps Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., which was recently spun off from ADP and is facing an uncertain future with the proxy fulfillment business going virtual soon.
Perhaps one of the transfer agents might be interested, Computershare, for example. Or what about NYSE-Euronext? NASDAQ already has Shareholder.com, Thomson Financial’s chief rival in the investor relations and PR web hosting business. NYSE buying Thomson Financial’s investor relations and PR services would fit nicely with the CorporateNews Group business it already has in Europe.
Then again, perhaps the new Reuters will be the first data and news provider to successfully provide unbiased coverage while being a PR service at the same time. ;-)